Rotterdam Metro

Rotterdam Metro
Native name Rotterdamse metro
Locale Rotterdam, Netherlands
Transit type Rapid transit and light rail
Number of lines 5
Number of stations 62
Daily ridership 300,000 (2015)[1][2]
Annual ridership 86.0 million (2015)[1][3]
Website RET (English)[4]
Began operation 1968
Operator(s) RET
Number of vehicles 160[3]
System length 78.3 km (48.7 mi)
Electrification 750 V DC

The Rotterdam Metro (Dutch: Rotterdamse metro) is a rapid transit system operated in Rotterdam and surrounding municipalities by RET. The first line, called Noord – Zuidlijn (North – South line) opened in 1968 and ran from Centraal Station to Zuidplein, crossing the river Nieuwe Maas in a tunnel. It was the first metro system to open in the Netherlands. At the time it was also one of the shortest metro lines in the world with a length of only 5.9 km (3.7 mi).

In 1982 a second line was opened, the Oost – Westlijn (East – West line), running between Capelsebrug and Coolhaven stations. In the late 1990s, the lines were named after two historic Rotterdam citizens, the Erasmus Line (North – South) after Desiderius Erasmus and the Caland Line (East – West) after Pieter Caland. As of December 2009, these names were dropped again in favour of a combination of letters and colours, to emphasize and clarify the difference between the separate branches, especially of the former East – West line.


Map of Rotterdam Metro
Line Termini (North / East  South / West) Stations Length (km) Comments
Line A BinnenhofSchiedam Centrum 20 17.2 To be extended to Vlaardingen West in 2017.
Line B NesselandeSchiedam Centrum 23 20.1 To be extended to Hoek van Holland Strand in 2017.
Line C De TerpDe Akkers 26 30
Line D Rotterdam CentraalDe Akkers 17 21
Line E Den Haag CentraalSlinge 23 27 Part of RandstadRail.

Lines A and B

Rotterdam Metro sign at Delfshaven.

In the northeast of Rotterdam, Lines A and B branch to Binnenhof (Line A) and to Nesselande (Line B). The latter has been extended since September 2005; before that date, this line terminated at De Tochten.

North of Capelsebrug station, with the exception of the De Tochten-Nesselande section, Lines A and B have some level crossings (with priority), and could therefore be called light rail instead of metro. These sections also have overhead wires, while most of the system has a third rail (the other exception is Line E (RandstadRail) to The Hague). However, the term 'light rail' is not used in Rotterdam; most people just call these branches 'metro'.

As of 2017, lines A and B will be connected to the Schiedam–Hoek van Holland railway line, connecting the metro network to Hoek van Holland.

Line C

At Capelsebrug, line C branches off the main East-West section to De Terp in Capelle aan den IJssel. Until November 2002, the Calandlijn (now lines A, B and C) terminated in the west of Rotterdam, at Marconiplein. On 4 November 2002 an extension through the city of Schiedam towards Spijkenisse was opened. The extension included four new stations in Schiedam (including Schiedam Centrum railway station) and one in Pernis. Line C joins Line D at the new Tussenwater station in Hoogvliet. Line A and B trains still terminate at Schiedam Centrum, while Line C trains continue and, like those on the Line D, terminate at De Akkers station in Spijkenisse.

Line D

Line D runs from Rotterdam Centraal via Beurs, Slinge, Rhoon, Tussenwater, and Spijkenisse Centrum towards De Akkers.

Line D intersects with Lines A-B-C at Beurs station, the only underground interchange between metrolines in the Netherlands. Before the connection with Line E at Rotterdam Centraal was realized in December 2011, some Line D trains terminated at Slinge during rush hours.

Line E

When the Hofplein Line was converted from a railway line to a rapid transit line in 2006, the old Hofplein station was temporarily kept as the line's southern terminus. On 17 August 2010 however a new tunnel opened, which connected the metro station at Rotterdam Centraal via a new tunnel and new Blijdorp station with the existing tracks near Melanchthonweg station.

For the next year, work was in progress to connect Line D to Line E at Rotterdam Centraal station. Since the completion of this project in December 2011, all trains coming from The Hague terminate at Slinge (these are line E trains), while line D continues in service between De Akkers and Rotterdam Centraal.

Rolling stock

Train 5119, built by Düwag, at De Akkers. This train is retired.
MG2/1-metro series 5300, built by Bombardier.
A series 5400 train, built by Bombardier, on the lightrail section at De Tochten station.
The new train for RandstadRail, built by Bombardier (5501).
Series Built Vehicle numbers Manufacturer In service Traction power supply Vehicle length Cabs
5000 (MG2) 1966-1967
Werkspoor No Third rail only 29 m (95 ft) 2
5100 (MG2) 1974–1975 5101-5126
Düwag No Third rail only 29 m (95 ft) 2
5200 (SG2) 1980–1984 (5201-5271) 5201+5229 destroyed in a fire 31.10.2006 Düwag No Third rail
Overhead wire
29.8 m (98 ft) 2
5300 (MG2/1) 1998–2001 5301-5363 Bombardier Yes Third rail only 30.5 m (100 ft) 1
5400 (SG2/1) 2001–2002 5401-5418 Bombardier Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
30.5 m (100 ft) 1
5500 (RSG3) 2007–2009 5501-5522 Bombardier (Flexity Swift) Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
42 m (138 ft) 2
5600 (SG3) 2009–2011 5601-5642 Bombardier (Flexity Swift) Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
42 m (138 ft) 2
5700 (HSG3) 2015-2017 5701-5722 Bombardier (Flexity Swift) Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
42 m (138 ft) 2

The new series 5500 trains, made between 2007 and 2009, were built for the new RandstadRail line E. The 5601-5642 trains were built to replace older Düwag stock (series 5200). In 2013, RET announced that it ordered 16 additional vehicles of SG3 stock to run on the Hoekse Line extension. A further 6 vehicles were ordered to increase capacity on the Randstadrail branch in 2015. Delivery of these 22 vehicles, called HSG3, will take place between 2015 and 2017

Future extensions

From 2017, the metro network will be extended westward to Hoek van Holland, as RET will take over passenger transportation services on the Schiedam–Hoek van Holland railwayline from NS. The new line will connect to the existing network at Schiedam Centrum. From that moment on, line A trains will start at Vlaardingen West rather than Schiedam Centrum, whereas line B will start at a newly built station near the current Hoek van Holland Strand station, replacing the latter. The project will also include the construction of a new station at Maassluis.[5]

As part of the "Stadionpark" project, a new line between Zuidplein and Kralingse Zoom is planned. This line will bypass the existing transfer at Beurs and will provide better public transport connections for residential areas on the South bank of Rotterdam.

Traction power

Trains run on 750 volts DC power which is supplied through a bottom-contact third rail throughout most of the system. There are multiple spring-loaded contact shoes on both sides of the vehicle, which are loaded and unloaded automatically due to the slanted edges of third rail ends. This allows the rail to be installed on either side of the track, a necessity around points and station platforms. There is sufficient overlap between the two rails on either end to avoid a "gapped" train, a situation where none of the shoes are in contact with the live rail. To reduce the risk of electrocution, the rail consists of a sturdy yellow insulating material, with the live current carried on a thick metal strip on the bottom side. This also guards against grime (such as from fallen autumn leaves) reducing or preventing electrical contact.

Three lines do however have sections that use overhead wires. These are lines A (towards Binnenhof), B (towards Nesselande), and E (towards Den Haag Centraal). On lines A and B, trains raise or lower their pantographs while the vehicle is in motion just east of Capelsebrug station, while on line E this happens while stationary at Melanchtonweg station (this leads to the only level crossing with third rail in the country being at the Kleiweg just outside the tunnel heading to Blijdorp station). Note that Line B trains switch back to third rail for the final leg of the journey, from the penultimate station De Tochten to Nesselande. The western extension of lines A and B to Hoek van Holland will also use overhead power as they will be converted directly from the existing railway line.

The sections of the metro that use overhead wires are called sneltram (light rail) by locals, as they include several protected level crossings at street level, which trains pass through with priority, as in a conventional railway line. For this reason, trains with a pantograph (series 5200 and 5400) are equipped with turn signals just like any road vehicle. This makes it easy to see the difference between series 5300 and series 5400 Bombardier-built trains. Series 5500 and 5600 trains are all so equipped, although the former is normally used on line E only as they carry the RandstadRail branding and livery while the latter carries that of RET.

See also


Further reading

  • Jan van Huijksloot and Joachim Kost, Veertig jaar Metro in Rotterdam 1968-2008. Uitgeverij Uquilar, 2008.

Media related to Rotterdam metro at Wikimedia Commons

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